Weekly prayer meetings at a church lit an ecclesiastical fire of passion in Terry Atkins' heart which ended with him stalking the vicar.

The court heard how the 47-year-old fell in love with the Rev. Lucy Fyfe-Jamieson and began to bombard her with phone calls and messages saying he wanted to marry her.

The vicar tried to convince him she was not interested in a romantic relationship.

A judge heard that the Rev. Fyfe-Jamieson became so worried at Atkins' infatuation that she gave up her church in Canterbury, Kent and moved more than 100 miles away where she became vicar of St Mary and All Saints Church in Beaconsfield.

However, obsessed Atkins followed her and resumed stalking and harassing her, Judge Neil Millard, sitting at Reading Crown Court was told.

The 47-year-old phoned the vicar up to 59 times a day and tracked her down when she moved to Beaconsfield in a desperate attempt to get away from him.

Judge Millard said: "By her calling, the reverend is bound to love others, to minister people in need and, naturally, to help those society rejects - and unfortunately he (Atkins) has latched onto that."

Atkins first met the Reverend in October 2021 at the prayer meetings.

Prosecutor Anne-Marie Critchley told the judge: "After that encounter, Mr Atkins messaged her on a very frequent basis and within a week he was telling her that he fancied her and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her."

The prosecutor said that whenever she tried to draw boundaries, Atkins became aggressive and sent her abusive messages and threats - one of which read "We are on a war footing. I'm not f****** around Lucy, I'm serious. You've got something else coming."

He also found the location of her new home and sent her photos of her back garden and of items from her rubbish bin to prove he was at her new place.

Alongside the chilling photos, Atkins sent a video where he "swore at her" and a message saying: "I will eventually marry you."

Judge Millard observed: "You were clearly intending to frighten her."

On August 25, the vicar went to answer at knock at her front door in Beaconsfield, thinking it was removal men - only to find the defendant waiting for her on the doorstep.

Prosecutor Ms Critchley said: "She tried to close the door but the defendant put his foot between the door and the frame to prevent her from doing so, and he insisted on entering her property saying 'I'm coming in for a cup of tea, we need to talk'."

Atkin was arrested two days later, on August 27 and charged with one count of breaching a restraining order and another of stalking. He admitted to both offences.

Prosecutor Ms Critchley told the judge: "It can be said that Mr Atkins is a serial stalker who cannot take no for an answer and appears to absolutely lack insight and empathy."

The Rev. Fyfe-Jamieson read out her victim impact statement to the court.

She said: "The intensity of messages and calls were a great strain and I felt a sense of grief I thought no-one else could understand. I felt out of my depth and completely helpless."

Rev. Fyfe-Jamieson pleaded with the judge for a lenient sentence as she felt that Atkins, who was diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder, needed help.

Judge Millard told the defendant: "She feels the need for you to be rehabilitated. She spoke of the guilt she feels because of her pastoral role to look after those society rejects - but she has no guilt to carry. The guilt was entirely yours."

Judge Millard sentenced Atkins, from Sussex Road in Harrow, west London, to two years' imprisonment.

He will have to serve half of that sentence before he can be released on licence. He is also forbidden from contacting Rev. Fyfe-Jamieson directly or indirectly, and to attend her home address or place of work at the church.